On September 30, a $24 billion investment in childcare finding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will come to an end, putting affordable childcare at risk for millions of parents and caretakers. With a childcare cliff looming within the next two weeks, Democratic lawmakers in Congress have proposed legislation that would provide continued funding for childcare, “It has been a lifeline for our struggling childcare system and the parents who depend on it. We invest in roads to make sure people can get to work. We have to invest in childcare, too,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Child Care Stabilization Act would allocate $16 billion to childcare annually for five years to aid providers.
The Century Foundation, a nonprofit think tank, has estimated that the end of federal childcare funding could lead to the closure of over 70,000 childcare programs and 3.2 million children losing their care. They have also estimated that American families will lose out on a staggering $9 billion in annual earnings due to having to cut back on hours at work or leave their jobs completely. The end of federal funding will deal another blow to parents who are already facing severely high costs and shortages of childcare throughout the United States. The Department of Labor found that families across the country pay between 8% and 19% of their median family income per child on care, meaning that childcare is already unaffordable almost everywhere in the country.